News + Events


actionstrategyThis Wednesday, September 14th at 11am MTN, Bill will be leading a webinar on “Utilizing Open-Book Management to Improve Engagement and Performance” hosted by Action Strategy. To register for the webinar email We hope to see you there!



We’re happy to announce that we launched a new blog about open-book management on Forbes magazine’s website.  Click here to read our first article which provides a general overview of who we are and how we came across open-book management.

You can find our most recent articles below.   If you’d like to stay up to date on our future Forbes articles you can follow us on Facebook, Linked-in or sign-up to follow us on Forbes.


The Simplest (And Cheapest) Way To Leave Competitors In The Dust

simplestcheapestcompetitorsThere are plenty of ways to distinguish yourself from the competition. Higher quality. Great branding and marketing. Lower prices. Trouble is, all these cost money. If the economics don’t work, you’re back where you started, in the middle of the pack.

But here’s a way to establish a competitive edge that’s both cheap and relatively simple. Stay in touch—close, regular touch—with your customers.  Click here to read more.

A Capitalist Revolution That Aligns Owners And Employees

flagAdam Smith is one of the few historical thinkers whose work has stood the test of time. And it is more than coincidence that he published his seminal work, The Wealth of Nations, in 1776, the year of our nation’s independence. When we celebrate America’s 240th birthday next week, it’s worth reflecting on what was happening back then, and on the unfinished business we have ahead of us.  Click here to read more.

How US Manufacturers Can Compete

usmanufacturersNearly every politician these days bewails the loss of American manufacturing jobs. Nearly every politician promises—somehow—to bring them back. We’re skeptical of these promises. Many thousands of factory jobs have been lost, and will continue to be lost, to automation, just as millions of farm jobs were lost to new technologies a century ago. And some manufacturing industries, such as garment making, will always find it impossible to produce goods in high-wage environments like our own. Click here to read more. 

Engage Your Employees – In Making Money

engageemployeesIt’s an old joke, but it’s still funny. The CEO is asked, “How many people work at your company?”

“About half of them,” he replies.

In fact the CEO may be optimistic. If we define “work” as giving it your all and feeling engaged in the job, then only about 30% of American employees spend their day really working. The rest are putting in their hours and doing just enough to get by.

This sad state of affairs has spawned a whole industry of consultants and service providers who promise to boost employee engagement. Much of their advice runs the gamut from the trivial to the blindingly obvious. Set a good example. Get better office furniture. Show you care. Some of the recommendations can cost serious money. Take your people to Hawaii! Give them a sabbatical!

Here’s a revolutionary idea: instead of spending money on employee engagement, help your employees learn how to make money, both for the business and for themselves. Then stand back and see whether they’re engaged.  Click here to read more. 

The Four Mistakes That Will Kill Your Incentive Plan

4mistakesThe other day we delivered a presentation on incentive plans to attendees at a conference. There were close to 100 people in the room, and we asked for a show of hands.

“How many work for companies with an incentive plan?” Nearly everyone raised a hand. “How many believe that the incentive plan is working—that it actually motivates people to improve performance?” A few scattered hands went up. Like maybe three.

Few aspects of the workplace cause as much discontent as poorly thought-out incentive plans. Sure, people always like to get a bonus. But if the plan isn’t designed right, the possibility of a bonus will have zero effect on their performance. Worse, the plan is likely to engender cynicism and resentment. (“Hmph. I wonder how much their unit got.”) And it may cost the company money it doesn’t have.

In our experience, destructive or ineffective plans plunge headlong into one or more of four common traps. Click here to read more. 

To continue reading more of our Forbes articles click here.



Changing Workforce? Change The Way You Run Your Business

By John Case and Bill Fotsch

MLJournalWhen we talk to manufacturers about today’s changing workforce, they generally have frowns on their faces.  Young workers these days lack technical skills, even basic math, they complain.  And these young workers expect instant answers to their questions – the effect of the Internet, no doubt.  They’re always asking “why?” rather than doing as their told.  Sometimes they’re opposed to the very idea that a company should make money.  We think a little historical perspective is in order.  Continue reading to learn more.


Transparent Economics: The Key to Profitable Growth

By John Case and Bill Fotsch

TRAK.INSomewhere along the line, most young people learn a little about the economics of business.

Maybe a unit at school describes how a lemonade stand or a pizza shop operates. The students learn about revenue, costs, and profit. Properly taught, business can sound interesting, even fun. Imagine figuring out something you can sell for more than it costs. You’d be making money!

But then these young people grow up and get a job. And what happens? Continue reading to learn more.



How to Boost Margin and Mission in Healthcare?

By John Case and Bill Fotsch

VERTESSHealthcare is an unusual industry.  It’s part business, part mission-driven service. It’s high tech and it’s high touch.  The one indisputable truth is that every healthcare organization must generate more revenue than it spends.  As the saying goes: No margin, no mission.

But many healthcare employees don’t like to think about this fundamental economic principle.  They prefer to see themselves as working in human services, not business.  They get upset when an owner raises financial considerations in determining priorities.

What to do? Continue reading to learn more. 



Track Customer Experience, but Don’t Forget the Financials

By Bill Fotsch


Businesses are always on the hunt for customer feedback. They e-mail us surveys. They ask us to stay on the phone after a service call to rate the interaction. Many rely on metrics such as the Net Promoter Score to track how customers feel about them. The most disciplined firms not only exploit the data to identify problems with their products and services but also get everyone on staff involved in fixing them.  Continue reading and join the discussion on HBR Blog Network.



Coming Soon: The Self-Managing Plant

By John Case and Bill Fotsch


Manufacturers are cutting or recasting supervisors and investing in self-managing teams. But how can employees make good decisions unless they understand the economics of the business? 

Gary Hamel is not your typical ivory-tower professor. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of the world’s most influential business thinkers. He’s a consultant, management educator, author of several books, and the most widely reprinted writer in the history of the Harvard Business Review. When Hamel speaks, business leaders tend to listen.  And what’s Hamel speaking about now?   Continue reading from the Manufacturing Leadership Journal.



Share Your Financials to Engage Employees

By John Case and Bill Fotsch


If you’re searching for ways to improve employee engagement, you’ll find lots of laundry lists. Fourteen tips. Seven steps. The “Ten C’s.” Most of these sources contain good-but-basic advice, like providing mentoring, encouraging two-way communication, and recognizing people when they do great work.

But the statistics suggest that following such advice, like staying on a diet, is harder than it looks—some 70% of U.S. workers say they don’t feel engaged on the job, a number that hasn’t changed much in recent years. If time-starved owners or managers don’t naturally abide by all those nostrums, are they likely to start now?

We have a different way of thinking about engagement, because we have a different idea of what it is.

Our approach begins with a question: Who do you think is more engaged in the business, the farmer or the hired hand? The building contractor or the guy pounding nails? The store owner or the clerk behind the counter? The answers are obvious, but they raise an equally obvious objection.  Continue reading and join the discussion on HBR Blog Network.



Want Engaged Employees? Try Opening the Books

By Jeff Moad, Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community


Call it the Engagement Paradox.  On one hand, manufacturers tell us that a self-directed, engaged workforce is an increasingly important competitive advantage. Why? Continue reading to learn more.



A Winning Culture Keeps Score

By John Case and Bill Fotsch


People often think of corporate culture as “soft” because it involves squishy things like values and expectations. That’s true as far as it goes—but winning cultures have a hard, metrics-driven element as well. A culture that feels upbeat and positive but doesn’t contribute to profitable growth or beating the competition is destined for the dustbin.

In sports, everyone gets that and knows what winning looks like. It’s reflected in your score, plain and simple. Sure, you track other numbers—what you might think of as key performance indicators—such as on-base percentage. The Boston Red Sox, the 2013 world champs in baseball, are known for their sabermetrics. But nobody in the organization thinks those stats are more important than outscoring opponents.

In many businesses, however, people have no clue what winning would mean. More profits? A higher stock price? How can I affect those? Maybe “winning” just means making my KPIs—or not getting laid off. Employees can’t get excited about winning, because they never know whether they’re winning or not. They need a score to tell them.  Continue reading and join the discussion on HBR Blog Network.



If you’d like to stay up to date on our upcoming events you can follow us on Facebook or Linked-in.





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